Senate Democrats on Wednesday voted to advance a $3.5 trillion budget bill after a 14-hour session known as “vote-a-rama,” Politico reports.
Democrats plan to use the budget reconciliation process to move the bill with a simple majority but first had to clear a procedural hurdle that allows any senator to offer an unlimited number of amendments to the bill. The votes are nonbinding and are typically used to force opponents to pick a side on controversial issues.
Republicans sought to force Democratic votes on police issues after branding Democrats are the party of the “defund the police” movement even though only a few House members have offered support for plan to shift police funding to social services.
Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville proposed a nonbinding amendment to slash federal funding from cities that “defund” the police.
New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker could not contain his delight.
"I am so excited," he said. "This is perhaps the highlight of this long and painful and torturous night… If it wasn't complete abdication of Senate procedures and esteem, I would walk over there and hug my colleague from Alabama. Because there's some people who have said that there are members of this deliberative body that want to 'defund' the police, to my horror. And now this senator is giving us a gift to finally, once and for all, we can put to bed this scurrilous accusation."
Every Democrat and every Republican voted in favor of the amendment.
Missouri Republican Josh Hawley proposed an amendment to hire 100,000 new police officers.
Durbin praised the plan, noting that it is an extension of a police-hiring program created by Joe Biden when he was in the Senate in the 1990s.
Durbin said that 37 Democrats previously called for more police funding but not a single Republican joined them.
"We're glad you've come around," Durbin said. "The Republicans are joining Democrats in supporting Joe Biden's COPS program -- you are right, we need 100,000 more police."
Democrats also overwhelmingly voted in favor of Republican amendments to pledge not to raise taxes on those earning under $400,000 per year, restricting the Green New Deal, and banning immigrants from being transported from the border unless they test negative for Covid.
Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to support a Republican amendment to ban federal funds from promoting critical race theory in schools.
The Senate voted on more than two dozen amendments in total, none of which are likely to be included in the actual bill.
Budget bill advances:
The Senate ultimately wrapped up its marathon session in the early hours of Wednesday morning and voted 50-49 down party lines to advance their $3.5 trillion budget blueprint.
But hours after the vote, Manchin issued a statement warning that he would not support $3.5 trillion in spending.
"Adding trillions of dollars more to nearly $29 trillion of national debt, without any consideration of the negative effects on our children and grandchildren, is one of those decisions that has become far too easy in Washington," Manchin said.
"I firmly believe that continuing to spend at irresponsible levels puts at risk our nation’s ability to respond to the unforeseen crises our country could face,” he added.
Asked about Manchin’s statement, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters, "Look, there are some in my caucus who might believe it’s too much, there are some in my caucus who believe it’s too little."
"I can tell you this on reconciliation: One, we are going to all come together to get something done. And two, we’ll have every part of the Biden plan in a big, bold, robust way."